“Now It Came to Pass That Those Judges Had Many Friends and Kindreds”

Brant Gardner

Cultural: The important cultural information in these verses lies in the emphasis on the “many friends and kindreds.” Of course there would be sympathizers, but the main power base of any leader in Mesoamerican society was his “kindred” or his kin group. That group lent him power and sustained him in that position. Positions of power in a kinship group would benefit the entire group. Because political positions would be handed down from father to son, the kin group had an abiding and permanent stake in making certain that their particular representative in the governmental system would remain there, and continue to assist in elevating the status (and wealth) of the entire kin group. This emphasis on the role of the kin groups in the maintenance of the positions of these judges and lawyers is a very Mesoamerican trait that the Book of Mormon depicts with uncanny accuracy.

Typological: We may know for certain that destruction is coming because we see the secret combinations again. In this case, they are not named Gadianton. They are, nevertheless, supposed to be seen as related. These are secret combinations that are Mormon’s harbingers of the end. Destruction will surely come because the secret combinations have come.

It is interesting that this particular combination is not named for the Gadiantons where other recent secret combinations have been. There is not enough information in the Book of Mormon to create a solid case, but the working hypothesis of this commentary is that the attachment of the Gadianton name by Mormon has to do with cultural influence from Central Mexico. The original name came from inside the Nephite society, but after that point, Mormon would have named “Gadianton” any secret combination that had a cultural influence stemming from Central Mexico. This will certainly be the context of his later Gadiantons in his own day, and is the best contextual explanation for the most recent Gadiantons of 3 Nephi, who were described in terms that separated them from Lamanites (for example, 3 Nephi 1:29-30).

Multidimensional Commentary on the Book of Mormon